Porto Alegre breathes and inspires resilience

2011 was a seminal year for Porto Alegre. Over the course of eight months, we discussed the challenges, goals, and dreams of each neighborhood during the Fifth City Congress. This process involved thousands of individuals from the various communities of our City, and showed that people are hungry for new answers to the challenges posed by the 21st century, especially those relating to social issues. As the internationally recognized Capital of Popular Participation, the city of Porto Alegre is transforming itself.

Amid the social upheaval in Brazil in 2013, the launch of 100 Resilient Cities by the Rockefeller Foundation proved the catalyst for change we needed. It is with great joy that as we conclude this stage of work, we take this moment to celebrate our many achievements.

The launch of the Resilience Strategy in Porto Alegre in January 2016, the first in Latin America, was an important landmark for the City and showed we are on the right track – one of collective construction, collaboration and co-creation. Developed over two years, the Strategy involved more than 500 city stakeholders, from community leaders to entrepreneurs, to universities, public authorities and the social sector. The Porto Alegre Resilience Strategy represents what we most want as a society. It rejects the exclusionary ethos of winners and losers and embraces dialogue, understanding of local needs and building opportunities.

Based on this work, and the collaboration fostered by the Porto Alegre Resiliente Challenge, concrete initiatives to strengthen our resilience have taken shape and serve as a model for other cities in the Network. The creation of the City Resilience Development Index; Municipal Energy Efficiency and Climate Change Policy; Social Revitalization Guidelines of the 4th District (the former industrial area of ​​the City); Youth Centers in four areas of great social vulnerability; and the promotion of Local Resilience Networks in the 17 regions of the Participatory Budget, are just some of the projects we have developed. Together, they begin to transform our city into a more prepared and resilient one.

Porto Alegre’s achievements have led to action on the regional level. For the first time, the Legislative Assembly of Rio Grande do Sul established an official conversation on resilience by forming the Rio Grande Resilient Special Commission. Its final report will result in a bill for the implementation of resilience plans in the 497 municipalities of the State.

This development makes us proud of the progress we have made the last three years, but it by no means indicates the end of our journey. We have enormous challenges ahead of us, and changes in the global, national and local context demand an even more radical strengthening of the theory and practice of resilience. To sustain and build on the gains we have made, we emphasized our comittment to them to all candidates standing for office.

The commitment of the new Mayor has proved essential to our goal of establishing Porto Alegre as a model city for resilience in Latin America by 2022, 250 years after the city’s founding. The new Mayor’s support of the Porto Alegre Resiliente Challenge gives us confidence that our efforts will not be squandered.

In my 30 years in public life, the task of coordinating, articulating, and spreading a new model of urban resilience, in a a city of 1.5 million people, has been the greatest challenge of all. This job has given me great joy and satisfication and I am proud of our progress, which does not stop here. I will continue on the path of collaboration to build a world with more opportunities for all.

Long live resilience!